Tag Archives: Canadiana

Eric Johnson signed his Stamp!

Edmonton-born actor – director -writer, Eric Johnson was by Valhalla on Queen West to sign his Maple Leaf Forever stamp for us folks at Canadian Culture Thing!

Eric Johnson MapleLeafForever stamp on the back of CCT0104

A big favourite around here, Eric played Whitney Fordman, Lana’s Lang’s jock-boyfriend on Smallville. Filmed in Vancouver, Smallville told the story of the early years of Canadian-Kryptonian hero Superman. Along with Eric Johnson, Smallville was packed with Canadian talent like Erica Durance, Kristin Kreuk and Aaron Ashmore.

After a season as Flash Gordon, Eric took the role of Detective Luke Callaghan on the awesome Toronto-set cop-show Rookie Blue. Rookie Blue tells the story of a group of Rookies on the Toronto police force, learning the ropes from their training officers and working the beat (and getting shot…and kidnapped…and BETRAYED!). Eric Johnson plays Luke Callaghan, the dapper Detective and main-squeeze of Star-Rookie Andy McNally, played by Missy Peregrym until he does a no-no and she finds herself a new man. Only time will tell what drama the future holds for the now brooding James Dean-esque Eric “Luke Callaghan” Johnson on his return in season 3.

Posted in Alberta, British Columbia, Canada, Canadian Celebrities, Canadiana, Edmonton, Entertainment, Pop Culture, Postcards, Television, Toronto, Vancouver | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dear Thingy, I need your raccoon wisdom…

Dear Thingy,

I don’t know if you can help me, but I bought several of your postcards (I think I purchased them at Toronto’s First Post Office), and I am using them to send to people’s names I get through Postcrossing.com (a hobby of mine).

Anyway, one of your cards is a vintage-looking, faded colour one reading “TORONTO” in large letters across the middle. Inside each letter is an image of a famous Toronto landmark. I think I have all of them figured out but one. I think, in order, they are: Old City Hall, Queen’s Park, Fairmont Royal York Hotel, the Princes’ Gates, [unknown], Canada Life Assurance Co., and University of Toronto’s Hart House. However, I have been unable to figure out what the image is in the letter “T.” Can you help me, Thingy? I’d like to be able to list all of the buildings in my message to the recipient, when I use this card for a Postcrossing person. Please let me know if you can help me, Thingy, or even where I might look online (although I’ve checked a few sites, as well as a few books already).

Thank you in advance.
Most sincerely,
Virginia C.

Hello Virginia,

As far as Canadian Culture Thing Large Letter Toronto postcard CCT0034,  you were pretty close…

The T is Old City Hall (1899) at Bay and Queen, the O is the Ontario Legislative Building (1893) at Queen’s Park, The R is the Royal York Hotel (1929), the middle O is the Prince’s Gates (1927) at the CNE, the N is Osgoode Hall (1829) at Queen and University, the last T is the CIBC building (1931) on King street between Bay and Yonge and finally the last O is Soldier’s Tower(1927) at the University of Toronto.

In the foreground is Sir Henry Pellatt’s Casa Loma (1914).

Most of the building are government buildings or structures with the exceptions of the Royal York and the CIBC building. For the purpose of postcards like this one, directed primarily at tourists, it was important to feature significant city buildings and historical landmarks. The Royal York is used because it was an important landmark hotel and one that many of the postcard-buying tourists would be staying at or at least wishing they were.

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Canada Building was the tallest building in the British Commonwealth having overshadowed the Royal York by by 21m (69′). It held this title until 1962 when it was surpassed by La Tour in Montreal by 35m (115′). In 1967 it ceased to be the tallest building in Toronto when it was surpassed by the TD Tower by a whopping 78m (256′) which brought the Commonwealth title back to Toronto. It’s hard to believe when looking at the Toronto skyline today, that the CIBC building, while beautiful in design, was once the tallest building in the British Empire.

In another CCT Large Letter Toronto postcard (CCT0087) we have a similar assortment of buildings with the inclusion of a seldom used landmark building in the centre O, Maple Leaf Gardens on Carleton at Church.

I hope this answers your question.

Yours Truly, Thingy the Raccoon.

Posted in Architecture, Canada, Canadian Money, Canadiana, Historical, Ontario, Postcards, Toronto | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Heady Days of the Laurier Era.

In the early 20th century Sir Wilfred Laurier, one of our longest serving Prime Ministers, famously announced: “The twentieth century shall be the century of Canada. . . . For the next hundred years, Canada shall be the star towards which all men who love progress and freedom shall come.” Whether you feel that Laurier was on the mark or not, at the time of this renowned speech in 1904, Canadians were very optimistic about the future.

A Raphael Tuck & Sons postcard showing the Canadian Wheat Arch, erected in Whitehall (London, England) to honour Edward VII’s coronation in 1902. Note the “Free Homes for Millions” ad.

One of the main reasons for the country’s optimism was the enormously successful campaign to lure immigrants to Western Canada and the economic prosperity that soon followed. No doubt taking advantage of the worldwide interest in the Canadian West triggered by the discovery of gold in the Yukon in 1896, Laurier’s government embarked on an ambitious advertising campaign in Europe and America to populate this vast, near empty region. Homesteaders were offered 160 acres of free western farmland provided the land was worked and permanent residences were established on it.

“Homes for Millions in Canada” are advertised in this King’s Printer (government) postcard targeting Uncle Sam in 1903. This postcard is one of a series of 12 cartoon-type cards primarily focusing on immigration from the USA.
“Thousands of Settlers are Moving to Canada” 1903 postcard.


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The Canadian Beaver: A Dam Industrious Rodent.

When I think of the noble beaver, I think of him like one of our founders. I think of how he and his kin built this great nation one dam lodge after another. Planning out our waterways while commingling with it’s fellow future-Canadians, the Moose and Goose, the Salmon, Loon and Caribou. The great beaver deciding one day, while gnawing down a sap-oozing tree as he built the Parliament buildings, that a leaf should be the symbol for this great tree-covered nation. These proud Beavers would name the country Can-ada because the word Can’t wasn’t in a beavers vocabulary!

The beaver was only found in Canada (Castor Canadensis) and before the discovery of Canada by the French Vikings of Portugal, no one had ever seen such a creature! Travelers bringing back tales of the 12 metre-tall beast with mighty teeth that was known to raze forests and it’s paddle-like tail that could flatten man or beast. Oh, the beaver, the Great Industrious Beaver…I digress.

Dominion of Canada postcard c.1909

But seriously, the beaver is as important as any of our founders and definitely more recognizable.

Did you score more than 1 point? Did you get lucky with your guessing?

The cute little beaver has been symbolic of Canada since the first settlers came to Canada and hunted them till near-extinction. But, hey, it was before down-filled, Gore-Tex® jackets and heated cars. Let’s face it, if a fur-trade hadn’t been developed in Canada, there would have been little motivation to explore the country. The explorers who charted Canada were really just charting out where to hunt beavers.

Trade began between the Native people and the French in the 1500’s, swapping beaver pelts in exchange for cooking pots and knives. By the the early 17th century, Samuel de Champlain"" had come to Canada and on orders by Henry IV, the King of France, to develop the fur-trade. Before long, the English got into the fray and as the competition took off, both the French and English began sending shiploads of beaver pelts back to Europe. The industrious beaver became the industry of a fledgling nation.

In 1670, the newly founded Hudson’s Bay Company was given sole control of the Hudson’s Bay region by the English government and their territory continued to grow as they overcame many of their challengers. The fighting over beavers between French and English fur-traders became so fierce it eventually led to the The French-Indian War"" of 1754. The English won the war and in 1763 took over France’s North American colony. There had been an estimated six million beavers in Canada before the fur-trade began but at it’s peak traders were shipping as many as 200,000 pelts a year back to Europe. Luckily, by the 1830’s, the felt hats that beaver fur had been used for in Europe began falling out of favour and silk became a more popular choice. The fur-trade was almost entirely finished by 1870 and beavers all over Canada let out a huge sigh of relief.

Sandford Fleming (1827-1915)

As the years passed things would get better for the beaver and in 1851, one (let’s call him Olaf Joaquin Duguay) would even adorn the first Canadian postage stamp. Known as the “Three Penny  Beaver” and designed by Sir Sandford Fleming, the stamp was the very first stamp anywhere in the world to depict an animal instead of a monarch!

The “Three Penny Beaver” Stamp 1851

This became trend-setting and a mere 86 years later, in 1937, the beaver, in a design by G.E. Kruger-Gray, shared it’s place on the Canadian five-cent coin"" where (with the exception of 1943-1945 and 2005 – damn war!) it still remains.

1937 Canadian Five-Cent Coin, the first depicting the Beaver.

Suddenly, there were beavers everywhere. Besides stamps and money, they were found on product packaging, books, advertising, postcards, toys, and souvenirs of all kinds. When someone visited Canada, they always left with a little beaver. They appeared on company logos like the Canadian Pacific Railway"", on newspaper mastheads and on more Government buildings across Canada than you can shake a beaver tail at. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Canada and Ireland led the way in introducing the Beaver Scouts"" programme. Soon little boys (and eventually girls) began dressing in blue and brown paramilitary uniforms embellished with beavers. These little scouts saluted by hooking two fingers on each hand like claws while making tsk tsk noises with their front teeth. The beaver now had an army! Perhaps, they could form an air force comprised of De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver"" airplanes!

My Mémère, Juliet Gendron and I on my way to Beavers c1975 (I only lasted a few weeks!)

Life became relatively stress-free for the Beaver until late 1954 when worry would return. The success of Walt Disney’s Davy Crockett"" created a new-found popularity for the coonskin cap and the beaver feared it was only a matter of time before they would be, once again, adorning fashionable human heads. The mighty Beaver began a campaign against the fad by burning effigies of Fess Parker but as luck would have it the fad had passed by the late 50’s and the beaver was safe. A mere 30 years later their population numbers were considered stable.

The Maple Leaf Forever postcard c1916. Featuring Canada’s 9 Provincial Coats of Arms. Newfoundland and Labrador entered the Canadian Federation in 1949.

On March 24, 1975 beavers were finally given their due respect when, by Royal assent, they became an official emblem of Canada. Furthermore, it seemed that some of the Canadian elite began keeping beavers as pets. It was said that the wife of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau"", the vivacious and unsinkable “Margaret"", was seen sitting in the front row at a fashion show with her pet beaver. High Society magazine reported: “…Maggie Trudeau, no longer Canada’s leading lady has guaranteed the beaver a place in Canadian culture as the national pet.”

High Society Magazine September 1979

The final thing I would like to add about the beaver is that it should be said that, through all of it’s trials and faced with extinction at the hands of humans with cold heads, the beaver has never lost it’s manners or decency. The beaver is industrious, the beaver is a survivor but most importantly: the beaver is polite.

Posted in Canada, Canadian Celebrities, Canadian Money, Canadian Wlidlife, Canadiana, Historical, Politics, Pop Culture, Postcards | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

We’re happy to launch the Canadian Culture Thing blog!

Since 2004 we have been creating some great postcards, notecards, mugs and magnets featuring awesome nostalgic Canadiana. Canadian Culture Thing set out to explain visually what Canada was and is. We wanted to remind Canadians how amazing we are as a people. It seemed that it was more likely that a Canadian would have one of Lewis W. Hine‘s photographs of the construction of the Empire State Building in 1931 hanging on their wall than similar photos of the Canada Life Building in 1931! We wanted to change that. (more…)

Posted in Architecture, Canada, Canadian Celebrities, Canadian Literature, Canadian Wlidlife, Canadiana, Entertainment, Historical, Music, Pop Culture, Postcards, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments